Thursday, November 22, 2007

Week 13 Predictions

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Picks are a day late this week, but it's been hard to find the time with all the hustle and bustle of the Holiday. Anyway, 3 conference games this weekend with Egg Bowl and Iron Bowl taking place, and LSU/Arkansas tangling for the rights to the Golden Boot. 4 teams venture out to the JV league known as the ACC for intrastate rivalries.

Here's how the weekend will shake out...

Ole Miss (3-8, 0-7) at Mississippi State (6-5, 3-4)
11:30 CST, LFS
Wednesday’s Line: Mississippi State -6.5

Ole Miss owns this series all time 59-38-6, including last year’s 20-17 win Oxford. The Rebels have won 4 of the last 5, but lost 35-14 in Starkville in 2005.

The Rebels will undoubtedly come out fired up for this one. Their season has been in the tank since the Doyle Jackson Alabama game last month, but this is their chance to send their cross-state rival into a bowl game with a 2-game losing streak. After that emotion wears off though, and MSU continues to pound the ball with RB Dixon, the better team will win out in this game. The Rebels will start QB Schaefer, who anchored the Rebel offense that moved the ball very well against #1 LSU last weekend. Whether HC Orgeron will mysteriously sub him out in key situations remains to be seen. Look for MSU QB Carroll to bounce back from his 4-INT game against Arkansas last week with a solid game against a weak Rebel secondary.

Straight Up Winner: Mississippi State
Against the Spread: Mississippi State

Arkansas (7-4, 3-4) at (#1, #1)LSU (10-1, 6-1)
1:30 CST, CBS
Wednesday’s Line: LSU -12.5

LSU owns this series all time 33-17-2, including last year’s 31-26 victory. The Tigers have won 5 of 6 and 10 of 15 since Arkansas joined the SEC. The Hogs haven’t beaten a #1 team since 1981.

The Tigers looked like they just went through the motions last week in their victory over Ole Miss. They weren’t particularly sharp, but the talent differential was enough to cover for them. That won’t be the case this week. Both RBs McFadden and Jones racked up 100+ yds last year against the Tigers. The Hogs would like nothing more than to play spoiler and knock the Tigers off their #1 perch. If you believe the rumors, this is McFadden and Jones’ regular season finale as Razorbacks, so they’ll be jacked up and ready to go. The Razorbacks have the talent to bother LSU, but not to beat them. The game will be close, but the Tigers will pull it out in the end.

Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: Arkansas

Wake Forest (7-4) at Vanderbilt (5-6, 2-6)
Wednesday’s Line: Wake Forest -1.5

Vanderbilt leads this series all time 7-3, including a 24-20 victory in 2005. The Commodores have won 5 in a row in this series. The Demon Deacons are just 31-61-2 vs current SEC teams.

Wake snapped a 2-game losing streak last week with a 20 point win over NC State on Senior Day. They’ve got a bowl bid locked up, but their bid could certainly be bolstered by a quality road win such as this one. Meanwhile, the ‘Dores will be looking to shake off the funk after somehow letting a 15 point 4th quarter lead evaporate last week against Tennessee. This could well be WR Bennett’s last game in the Black and Gold, so he’ll be looking to make big plays against a solid WFU secondary. These are the types of games that good teams find ways to win. Vanderbilt has had chances this season – particularly last week and Georgia – to prove they are a good team and worthy of a bowl, but have let those game slip away. It doesn’t look like they know how to win the close games, which this one seems destined to be. While it should be a fun, exciting game to watch, it will end with heartache and no bowl bid for Vandy.

Straight Up Winner: Wake Forest
Against the Spread: Wake Forest

(#19, #19)Tennessee (8-3, 5-2) at Kentucky (7-4, 3-4)
1:30 CDT, CBS
Wednesday’s Line: Kentucky -3

Tennessee has dominated this series all-time 70-23-9, including last year’s 17-12 win. The Vols have won 22 straight in this series. UT is 33-3-1 when ranked in this game.

The Vols need to win this game to wrap up the SEC East. Like Arkansas, the ‘Cats have an opportunity to play spoiler. If they’re ever going to snap the streak, this is the year to do it… a home game, senior-laden offense on senior day, a slight favorite in the oddsmakers’ eyes. This promises to be a high scoring game as two of the most efficient offenses in conference go against two of the weakest defenses. The Vols will be focused after narrowly escaping Vanderbilt last week, while the ‘Cats will be looking to rebound from a game in which they surrendered an early 10-0 lead to Georgia. All of Tennessee’s losses this year have come on the road, and this is their first road game since being hammered 41-17 by Alabama. If it were in Knoxville, the Vols would be an easy pick. But on the road against a hungry UK team, Andre’ Woodson and the ‘Cats will be too much for the Vols in the end.

Straight Up Winner: Kentucky
Against the Spread: Kentucky

(#6, #7) Georgia (9-2, 5-2) at Georgia Tech (7-4)
2:30 CDT, ABC
Wednesday’s Line: Georgia -3.5

Georgia owns this series all-time 58-36-5, including last year’s 15-12 victory. The
Dawgs have won 6 straight in the series, though the last 3 have come by 16 points combined.

With their hand cast in the SEC, the ‘Dawgs venture out of conference to do a little scoreboard-watching on the Kentucky/Tennessee game. A ‘Cats win would put UGA in the SEC Championship Game with LSU. All the while, they’ll be taking on a Georgia Tech team that has been up and down all season, but is coming off back-to-back blowout of perennial basketball powers and football patsies Duke and North Carolina. While the Tech defense has been very good at times, they’ve not seen the speed and power of a RB like UGA’s Moreno. UGA QB Stafford will need to continue his recent steady play of handing the ball off to Moreno and making enough plays downfield so the defense can’t stack 8 or 9 in the box to stuff the run. As long as the ‘Dawgs can keep their eyes off the scoreboard long enough to handle the task at hand, they’ll continue their dominance of their lesser cross-state rivals.

Straight Up Winner: Georgia
Against the Spread: Georgia

Florida State (7-4) at (#12, #14)Florida (8-3, 5-3)
4:00 CDT, CBS
Wednesday’s Line: Florida -13.5

Florida leads this series all-time 30-19-2, including last year’s 31-14 win. The Gators have won 3 in a row in this series.

With no national title implications in this game (4 titles between these 2 since 1992), this one is all about pride. UF HC Meyer is 2-0 against FSU so far in his career. Both teams will look to pound the ball early, as the team who has rushed for more yards is 16-2-1 in the last 19 seasons. That gives the advantage to the steadily improving Gator front 7, who have been consistent against the run all season. While the FSU passing attack has improved somewhat throughout the season, they don’t have the weapons to fully exploit the Gator secondary that has been picked apart all season. This will be a tight game as usual, but the Gators have too many offensive weapons to lose to an offensively challenged team like the Seminoles.

Straight Up Winner: Florida
Against the Spread: Florida State

(#21, #22)Clemson (8-3) at South Carolina (6-5, 3-5)
6:00 CDT, ESPN2
Wednesday’s Line: Clemson-3

Clemson owns this series all time 63-37-4, but the Gamecocks pulled the upset last year 31-28. The Tigers are 8-2 over the last 10 seasons against USC.

At one point this season, the Gamecocks were ranked in the top 10, controlled their destiny in the SEC East, and had one of the toughest defenses in the conference, as well as the country. Then the injuries came along with inconsistent play from the QB and RB positions, and the ‘Cocks find themselves mired in a 4-game losing streak. Clemson, denied an ACC Division title last weekend with a loss to BC, will look to take out their frustrations on the battered Gamecocks. Their offense has been explosive led by QB Harper. Even with a much-needed extra week of rest, the Gamecocks don’t seem to have the weapons to score enough points to win this game. Unless the Ole Ball Coach can pull some magic out of his visor, the Tigers will continue their dominance in this series.

Straight Up Winner: Clemson
Against the Spread: Clemson

Alabama (6-5, 4-3) at (#25, #25)Auburn (7-4, 4-3)
7:00 CDT, ESPN
Wednesday’s Line: Auburn -6

Alabama leads this series all time 38-32-1 but Auburn has won 5 straight in the series. HC Tuberville is 4-0 against the Tide in Auburn.

These two teams have swapped roles since the beginning of the season when Auburn was plagued by inconsistency and the Tide started 2-0 in conference against Vandy and Arkansas. Now Auburn has righted the ship (except the UGA game two weeks ago) and Alabama is coming off a loss to Louisiana-Monroe that HC Saban likened to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and 9/11. The key to this game will be how the Tide come out of the gate. Last week’s loss was an embarrassment for everyone associated with the program and players’ efforts were being openly questioned. For the Tigers, they’ll be looking to shake the funk of getting blown out by UGA after taking a 3rd quarter lead. With more at stake for the Tigers, look for a hard-fought, close battle early on. As the game wears on though, the AU RBs will start to wear down the Tide and send Bama to a 6th straight loss in the series. The most Bama fans can hope for is Saban not comparing it to the recent cyclone or tsunamis that have claimed so many lives in Asia in recent months.

Straight Up Winner: Auburn
Against the Spread: Aubrun

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